May 29th, 2021
Baroque Room, Katoomba NSW
Supports: Red Bee, Celestial Oath and Master Leonard
It’s fucking freezing in Katoomba. The temperature gauge says it’s 3°C but that’s gotta be bullshit. You don’t need a fridge in this town. Just stick your drinks on the back deck and they’ll ice up on their own. Hanging about outside is clearly a dumb idea so we head inside the Baroque Room and grab a cold beer to warm us up.
A few punters joke that The Baroque Room is a bit too nice for a shindig like this but to me, it’s perfect. In the past, this venue has seen crowds north of 250 but tonight, in this Covid world, a sold out crowd of 96 will bear witness to a high energy and brutal lineup. For a lot of people here (including myself), this is the first live show back since some idiot slurped on bat soup and cursed the world to live in fear of running out of toilet paper.
Master Leonard kickstart proceedings and if you ask any of the bands that followed what they thought of these legends, the words “fucking” and “sick” were used by every bloke with access to a microphone. Unreal start to the night. Celestial Oath come out roaring and it wouldn’t look out of place if they wore Game Of Thrones garb and had a giant dragon flag behind them. Very fucking cool. Could easily see these fellas open for Amon Amarth and slay (puns…you love it).
Local mob Red Bee fire with guns blazing and any notion of social distancing is thrown out the bloody window. A few blokes in the pit start jumping on each other and it’s not long before everyone turns right, breaks out into a sprint and burns a circle into this fine venue’s floor. Talking to singer/guitarist Dan Silk before the show, he says he’s itching to get back on stage and fuck me dead, you can tell. Dan, alongside his bass playing brother Jim, do their best trying to look menacing and mean but there’s no hiding their big shit-eating grins. They’re not alone. Looking around the room and there are a lot of smiles on a lot of faces. We’re treated to a preview of their new song ‘Gutter Christ‘ and she’s an absolute pearler. Red Bee are a great band. Their sound varies from melodic and catchy as hell to downright brutal. Drummer Ian Dunn had a hell of a night keeping track of all the time changes and he did so flawlessly. Cracking show.
But Black Rheno. Jesus Suffering Christ. The weather is filth outside but inside it’s a goddamned hurricane. For starters, new drummer Kieran Smith is a blur. That poor drum kit that every band has played on tonight has had the arse flogged off of it, but Smith is unrelenting. His precision is inch perfect and HE – HITS – HARD!!!! The kit is mic’d up but that almost seems entirely unnecessary. Despite being the new kid in town, watching him lock in with guitarist Nano, it’s like he’s been playing with Rheno for years. These two blokes create so much noise alone and they’re tight as a fishes freckle. Nano’s guitar tone had so much sludge on it, they legit had to take some of it off. No man should be allowed to produce that much noise, especially in this small a space, but everyone here walked in knowing that come tomorrow, their hearing was going to be fucked!
Nano is an active bloke on stage too. Moves around constantly, but next to singer Milla, he might as well be standing still. Milla says he’s old but watching him tonight, it’s like he’s a 9 year old with a rock solid case of ADHD. It takes all of three songs before he runs into the crowd and starts baiting punters to try and keep up. There’s a beautiful chandelier hanging right in front of the stage that is just begging to be swung off, muppets style. I see Milla eye it off a few times but common sense gets the better of him. Probably a good thing. Should’a done it anyways.
In no time flat, his face is red from launching himself around the joint and throwing his vocal cords under the bus. Either that or he’s guzzled a bottle of their Black Rheno Hot Sauce backstage. The trio then rip into their as yet unreleased song ‘POW POW‘ to which Milla says “That was intense” before closing out with ‘No Time For Numbnuts‘ and ‘Lock The Gate‘ that sees him back in the pit to ensure that he wakes up battered and bruised, much like the rest of us will.
They shut the bar and send us on our way outside to dodge polar bears and penguins but at least our hearts are warm. Watching live heavy music, it’s like coming home. We are so fortunate right now to be able to experience it and this lineup was the perfect welcome back. If Black Rheno, or any of these bands are playing near you, then channel your inner Shia LeBoeuf and “DO IT”.
Review by Duane James @duanejamestattoo
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